The Xplova X5 is a GPS cycle computer whose unique selling points are a built-in video camera and the ability to connect to WiFi and 3G networks (the latter with a SIM card) to upload footage, download routes and interact with other X5 units.
The 121g X5 measures 109×59×22mm, and resembles a smartphone with six buttons and a 3-inch touchscreen that unfortunately doesn’t work with gloves.
The menu structure is confusing, and what should be simple tasks are at times frustrating. For example, a back arrow will appear occasionally, but instead of taking you to the last page you were on it kicks you out of the menu entirely.
The main dashboard-style screen is nicely laid out, but if there’s an option to customise the metrics it displays I couldn’t find it. The X5 does let you choose your data fields on a second page of activity information. You can add up to five ‘training mode’ pages, which offer fancy graphs grouped by data type — ‘time mode’, ‘distance mode’ and so on. Moving between these pages, their associated menus and navigation mode is not intuitive though.
The X5’s USP is a forward facing video camera, which records short snippets of footage Matthew Allen / Immediate Media
The X5 offers full navigation powered by Open Street Maps, and it works well. You can create routes with turn-by-turn instructions using Xplova’s own online platform or import them from other services.
For ride logging, the X5 uploads to Xplova’s own service, which is convenient only if you aren’t already committed to a platform such as Strava or Garmin Connect. A ‘send to Strava’ function exists on the Xplova website, but it’s a clunky solution that I found unsatisfactory in practice, so just plug in a USB cable.
The supplied out-front-style mount weighs 32g and is far too flexible. Luckily, Xplova should work with Garmin compatible mounts, so there are plenty of aftermarket options if you’re prepared to ignore the warning in the manual about using third party mounts.
The X5 is packaged well and I’m confident that updates could improve the interface significantly, but, as things stand, both the device and the online platform that accompany it feel rather half-baked. If filming is a priority, you’re better off with a standard GPS and a separate action camera.
The X5’s built-in camera records 720p HD video in clips of three, six or nine seconds. Filming can be started manually or triggered by any number of preset conditions, for example when you hit a certain speed or gradient.
The footage quality is poor and the audio was crackly to the point where I’d prefer just to dub some music on top. At the end of a ride, the X5 invites you to upload up to eight clips to make a mini movie, but if you want a more edited record you’ll need to copy files across manually.
Despite the inclusion of a SIM card slot, there’s no way to expand the X5’s built-in storage, so you’re limited to a maximum of around 500 three-second video clips, or roughly 25 minutes of footage. I couldn’t figure out a straightforward way to clear the memory either, other than manually deleting individual clips.
Update 6 September 2017: Xplova’s UK PR got in touch to say that Xplova has launched an updated version of the X5 called the X5 Evo, which features a number of design improvements. I’ll be getting one in to test, and I’m looking forward to seeing if it addresses my concerns with the first generation product.